Ok, this isn't actually a year in review. Most of the year was boring, and I don't care to review much of it. But there are a few things I've learned or accomplished that I figure are worth bringing up.
- I've learned there are places where I fit in better than others. I knew this already, of course, but in many ways we fit in here better than anywhere else we've lived. Here there are people who do some of the weird things we've been doing a while. They deliver their babies at home, and feel strongly about doing so. They also school their children at home, and have similarly strong feelings about it. They know how not to lose their heads if the power goes out, and realize that sometimes life has harsh realities it's better to face than to avoid.
- I've learned there really is something about land — about real, living earth, or even a neglected patch of dirt — that can be enchanting. It's kinda like Robert Service's "The Spell of the Yukon" only you don't even need the Yukon's snow and valleys. When we first moved in, people asked if we planned to "do anything with the land", since we bought 20 acres of farm land along with the house. Although they asked it innocently enough, the question always had a probing, intense undercurrent to it, and the relief the questioner felt when we answered that we planned to learn to farm it was tangible. It was more, though, than just relief; there was a feeling of respect we gained with that answer. I cannot possibly fault our neighbors for wondering if the the strangers moving from the city into the big white house would come in wanting everyone to change things; we wouldn't have been the first. We still have a chance, of course, to end up in that unenviable category, but I think we've done pretty well so far.
- I've taken lives, both for food and in defense of my land or animals. That's a common enough occurrence here, but wasn't part of my urban upbringing. Neither is much fun, but I'm glad to know I can, if necessary. Such things are one of the "harsh realities" of life I can't help but think will improve the person that learns to deal with them.
- I've learned about philosophy. That seem a bit incongruous, but was a natural-enough byproduct of learning to handle life's more difficult, dark corners. As I've probably said here before, a neighbor told me once that "people here know what it's like to be stuck, so they help others when they're stuck." One of the philosophies that helps a great deal when living here is that "you help those around you when you can, even at some inconvenience to yourself." In short, these are the people you want around you in the event of a zombie apocalypse, because they're already used to taking care of themselves and those around them.
- These are liberty-loving people. Another common philosophy, locally, is that liberty and freedom are important principles. They love their independence, even while realizing that being independent removes certain safety nets that soften life's hard edges. So they're willing to give up proposed safety nets and comfortable padding of daily life in the short term in order to maintain liberty in the long term.
- I've learned to be grateful for those times Dad insisted I accompany him to some dark corner of the house to fix an obscure but critical part of the structure, and those many weekends we spent helping some family member build or renovate a house (or renovating our own). I've got plenty of my own fixing and renovating ahead, and I'm glad to be confident I can handle them.
- I've learned to appreciate amateurs, people that do what needs to be done even if they really don't know how. These are the people that make life work, because they have the confidence they can deal with problems, and are willing to plow ahead without waiting for the "licensed professional". There are times, of course, when they learn they should have waited; they make mistakes and get bruised, bumped, and burned. Many are missing a finger or toe. But they get things done, and make life work. And given a properly-oriented student, and willing to share their experience.
There's probably more, but this is too long already, has no pictures, is waxing awfully rhapsodic, and ... the kids are yelling. Merry Christmas.